[This week’s blog is by Sukanya Rao. She is the better half of my good friend and an avid birdwatcher Rohit Rao. In response to a link about a blog on problems of Birdwatcher’s wife – Wife to a birder, she sent me this article. This article was earlier presented at Toastmasters International Club meeting at Mangalore. I am publishing this with her permission along with my photographs of Little Egrets at Mulki Back water – Krishna Mohan]
My husband Rohit is an avid bird watcher (of the winged kind) and hence this hobby has rubbed on to me (not by choice) and my son, Abhi (to a larger extent due to curiosity). But sincerely for the life of me, I don’t understand this hobby. Although it’s difficult to say no to a bird watching trip(not to put out the excitement of Rohit), at times I do say no claiming to have some important work to do (now that I am pursuing Ph.d., it’s a lot more easier).
Birds were just birds to me and they still are. But Rohit appreciates the color and shape of their wings, feet, eyes, neck, back, breast and so on. To me it does not matter whether they have red feet or black; whether they have a long beak or a short one; Whether they have a red wattle or a yellow one. Now tell me honestly, ‘what does it matter?’.
While traveling long distance, it is very annoying to meet egrets, spoon bills or kingfishers. It’s just like meeting a long lost friend or relative. The only difference is that these are feathered friends and I find nothing of substance to communicate to them. Rohit is different. He gets very thrilled and tells me ‘look at the green field and the white egrets. What a lovely contrast (to me). Look at the beak of that bird, it’s shaped like a spoon and so it is a spoon bill (to Abhi). Look at the pied kingfisher hovering. Now let me photograph them (to both of us).’ I almost groan aloud, ‘Oh no’.
So we stop the car, take out the binoculars (Abhi monopolizes them) and the camera along with the lens. The feathered friends fly away at this instant. Now the wait begins. So here we are parked in the middle of a highway, with Rohit waiting with his Canon camera and lens and I, desperately praying to god to let the egrets perch back in their original location and the pied kingfisher to continue hovering. The spoonbill stays a while longer and Rohit gets a good picture. The egrets and the kingfisher tease us for sometime, perching and flying, perching and flying and Rohit snapping away to glory. When he looks at the pictures there are about 12 with the left wing of the egret, another 20 with the right wing, 17 showing the beak and the head and another 18 with the feet. About three catch the whole bird but the bird in one picture is at the top left hand corner and the other two are fine with the bird in the middle. After snapping the kingfisher about 60 times he gets a convincing picture. Now he wants the whole egret with wings stretched. Grrrrr! That’s me not the tiger.
An hour has passed and my patience is running out. Thankfully Abhi too is getting impatient. That is the advantage of having a young child because he starts nagging ‘let’s go Appa’. I add to it. ‘let’s go Ro’. This goes on for a few minutes. When it falls on deaf ears, we begin shooing the birds away. This sends the message across. We really need to go.
Very reluctantly, Rohit says bye to the egrets, spoonbills and kingfishers and to our joy we are back on the road again.